Isaiah’s outline of the steps to forgiveness

The Word of God comes to life through our obedient thoughts and ways.

Today we will be looking at the core Bible principle of forgiveness, and how we have the ability, through faith in Messiah, to gain the privilege of being reconciled with our Maker when we recognize that our lives are not in alignment with his purposes. To accomplish this, we must repent of those things that are outside of his will for us.

Isaiah 55:7 – Let wicked people abandon their ways. Let evil people abandon their thoughts. Let them return to Yahweh, and he will show compassion to them. Let them return to our God, because he will freely forgive them.

Throughout the Bible, forgiveness from God for wayward actions has always been graciously available for those who seek it.

2 Chronicles 7:14 – if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

Notice this forgiveness is conditional on his people’s conviction to humble themselves, seek God, and turn from their wicked ways. The Bible also has examples of those whom God would not forgive, not because he is arbitrary, but because the individual or group of people demonstrates non-repentance.

Deuteronomy 29:18-20 – Beware lest there be among you a man or woman or clan or tribe whose heart is turning away today from Yahweh our God to go and serve the gods of those nations. Beware lest there be among you a root bearing poisonous and bitter fruit, one who, when he hears the words of this sworn covenant, blesses himself in his heart, saying, ‘I shall be safe, though I walk in the stubbornness of my heart.‘ This will lead to the sweeping away of moist and dry alike. Yahweh will not be willing to forgive him, but rather the anger of Yahweh and his jealousy will smoke against that man, and the curses written in this book will settle upon him, and Yahweh will blot out his name from under heaven.

Joshua 24:19-20 – But Joshua said to the people, “You are not able to serve Yahweh, for he is a holy God. He is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions or your sins. If you forsake Yahweh and serve foreign gods, then he will turn and do you harm and consume you, after having done you good.”

These examples show that forgiveness is possible only after a recognition of having done something against God’s revealed instruction. However, many people today don’t seek God’s forgiveness because they are not aware of having violated any of God’s commands. So perhaps in our discussion of forgiveness, we need to start there. One can’t ask for forgiveness if one is not aware of how some revealed instruction of God has been violated.

The revelation of God’s instruction to an assembled group of people has happened in two primary and distinctive portions of the Bible: the giving of the Ten Commandments at Mt. Sinai, and the Sermon on the Mount. One was transmitted directly to the people from God himself, the other was related to an assembled group of followers through God’s Anointed One, Yeshua. One provides the basis for all godly and human interaction in concrete commands, the other provides the basis for the spiritual emphasis of God’s concrete commands. Taken together, these two great passages form the core of the Bible message, and God’s expectations of human interaction with himself and others.

If a person seeking God recognizes that their life is outside the bounds of these very basic parameters that God has provided to all people, then they may feel the need to change the pattern of their life in those areas. When this occurs, they sense a real and urgent need to be forgiven. Whether it’s from wrongs they have committed with other individuals or whether it’s for seemingly irreconcilable errors committed in life, humans will typically reach a point within their lives where forgiveness becomes a real need. It may not be something obvious to others or sometimes even themselves, but the need exists and persists until a crisis point is reached. Once that happens, something must be done to meet this need.

In the passage today, Isaiah outlines three things necessary to accomplish this with God when confronted with the basic expectations God has for people in the Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount: abandoning wicked ways; abandoning wicked thoughts, and returning to Yahweh.

Isaiah 55:7 – Let wicked people abandon their ways. Let evil people abandon their thoughts. Let them return to Yahweh, and he will show compassion to them. Let them return to our God, because he will freely forgive them.

First, Isaiah says that the people must abandon their rebellious ways. This individual is named with the adjective “wicked.” The Hebrew word implies the idea of someone who is guilty of doing wrong, or worthy of condemnation because of moral depravity. This is typically used throughout the Bible for an individual with bitter and hostile intent toward God or others, or just a bad person.

The problem that arises in our modern context is that most people, even bad people, do not consider themselves as bad people. They justify themselves in their actions based on their own rationale stemming from comparing themselves with those around them who may do even worse things, thinking themselves better and therefore not guilty of wrongdoing.

However, God’s standards are uncompromising. As mentioned previously, even at the most basic level, the Ten Commandments exhibit a baseline standard for people to evaluate themselves in any culture and in any time in history. The universality of the commandments stand as a testimony against every individual as a performance standard that God expects of people who would consider themselves as his own people. That was the purpose of delivering them to the assembled congregation at Sinai, as God was laying out the constitution or charter of his Kingdom to be evidenced among his people for all time. The commandments lay out the appropriate actions toward God and toward others, and all other instruction from God’s Word stems from this blueprint.

Yeshua taught this as well.

Matthew 22:37-40 – And he said to him, “You shall love Yahweh your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

These two commandments are the summary of two tablets of the Ten Commandments: the first half of the instruction relates how to love God, and the second half relates how to love others. When people compare themselves to these standards and not to the corrupt culture around them, they can reach no other conclusion except that they are guilty of morally wrong actions, and therefore by the Bible definition, bad or wicked.

Yeshua expanded on the spiritual motivations behind the Ten Commandments with his Sermon on the Mount. This teaching appears in both the gospels of Matthew and Luke in slightly different settings, highlighting the likelihood this was a basic teaching of Yeshua’s which he shared wherever he went.

Back to Isaiah’s instruction for the wicked to abandon their ways, the word for abandon implies leaving, forsaking, loosing and letting go. The way of a person is their manner, habit, course of life and intentions. When a person’s plans and purposes are against the plans and purposes of Yahweh, then God is not able to accomplish his purpose through that individual. The cycles and patterns of personal behavior have to be changed with a commitment to move beyond them.

Yeshua relates a similar purpose when he states, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you,” (Matthew 6:33). When the individual can lay down their purpose at the feet of God and the purposes of his kingdom, then God has the ability to direct and provide what is needed for an obedient life. When this conclusion is reached, it is a huge step towards the fulfillment of completing the other steps Isaiah lays out in our subject verse.

The next step Isaiah mentions is that of not just abandoning wicked ways, but of abandoning evil thoughts. This is not an injunction to mindless obedience, but a directive to change the habits of thinking that can keep individuals trapped in the loop of non-productive or harmful behaviors. Nothing changes in the actions until thought patterns are revised.

The Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount are not just about actions, but about intentions. By putting God first, not worshiping images, respecting his Name and set apart time, we demonstrate to him how much we love him in our thinking. When we desire to abide by the rest of the commandments in our thinking, we tend to act out those thoughts through honoring others created in his image. These intentions and thoughts then keep us focused on him and his Kingdom, and not our own ways.

The methods of seeking God’s Kingdom first are laid out in the Sermon on the Mount, as I have covered in detail throughout the various teachings presented on this site. These methods and intentions involve integrity, vigilance, holiness, trust, forgiveness and compassion. When people truly evaluate their actions in view of the standards God has provided to us in these teachings of Moses and Yeshua, and not the standards of society, then there is a more complete picture of their standing before God.

The third aspect is what Isaiah describes as returning to God. While this admonition was originally spoken to those in Israel who were familiar with God but had rejected him, the same encouragement exists for us who have been confronted with God’s standards and are seeking for a measure of spiritual peace that comes from reconciling with the Creator of all things. Isaiah confirms this in the context of this passage when he writes:

Isaiah 55:3-5 – Open your ears, and come to me! Listen so that you may live! I will make an everlasting promise to you – the blessings I promised to David. I made him a witness to people, a leader and a commander for people. You will summon a nation that you don’t know, and a nation that doesn’t know you will run to you because of Yahweh your God, because of the Holy One of Israel. He has honored you.

Isaiah alludes to the fact that foreign nations would be drawn to the God of Israel because of the example of God’s faithfulness with David, and with his people. What was future to Isaiah is the present age we are living in. Because of the faithfulness of David’s “son,” Yeshua the Messiah, we have the ability, through faith in him, to gain the privilege of being reconciled with our Maker when we realize that our lives are not in alignment with his purposes.

  • John 1:12-13 – …he gave the right to become God’s children to everyone who believed in him. These people didn’t become God’s children in a physical way-from a human impulse or from a husband’s desire to have a child. They were born from God.
  • Isaiah 55:6 – Seek Yahweh while he may be found. Call on him while he is near.

He is near even today and able to accept and forgive all who come to him with sincere motives and a willingness to abandon their past wicked ways and past disobedient ways of thinking. That need for forgiveness can be met today.

Romans 8:5-7, 13-14 – For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. … For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.

For all those who recognize they have transgressed the commands and intentions God has provided in his Word, forgiveness is always available, along with strength through his holy Spirit which can enlighten and guide in the correct ways. Repentance of wicked ways and thoughts paves the way for God to expand his influence in the life of not only those who have not yet experienced spiritual regeneration, but in the life of the believer, as well. The Word of God comes to life through our obedient thoughts and ways, and God is glorified when we lay down anything that offends or transgresses his instruction for us. This is how the Kingdom of God continues to expand and grow, and we become privileged to become his co-laborers in the fulfillment of these things.


If you enjoy these articles, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

Keeping the commands of God over our traditions and impulses

Observing, guarding, and watching the covenant and commands of God is as much a responsibility of God’s people today as it ever has been.

Today we will be looking at the core Bible principle of vigilance. Keeping the covenant and commands of God requires multi-faceted vigilance, as cultural influx that negates or destroys the foundations of God’s word is as rampant today as it has been since ancient times.

The Bible is filled with admonitions to keep the covenant or to keep the commands of God. We read about it so often that we may sometimes gloss over the significance of what it means to keep the words of God.

Psalm 119:57, 60, 63 – Yahweh is my portion; I promise to keep your words. … I hasten and do not delay to keep your commandments. … I am a companion of all who fear you, of those who keep your precepts.

God had conveyed many specific directives to the ancient Israelites through Moses, including this necessity to keep his commands.

Exodus 19:5 – “Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice, and keep my covenant, then you shall be my own possession from among all peoples…”

In this passage, God made it clear that those who obey him by keeping his covenant would be his people. The word we translate as keep or to keep in English comes from the Hebrew root word shamar which at its most rudimentary level means to observe and watch. In its primary sense, it means to heed, pay attention to, or observe (in practice) the covenant and the commands of God. This is the generally accepted meaning when it is used.

However, it also means to guard, preserve, or protect. This is a huge concept in Hebrew thought as it relates to the commands of God. Based on passages like Exodus 19:5 that we just reviewed, both the ancient and modern Israelites have understood themselves to be the receivers of God’s wisdom above all other nations in the world. As such, it was their responsibility to preserve his words through oral traditions and written records. Thankfully for all believers today, it was due to this dutiful caretaking of God’s words that we even have a Bible today.

But over the centuries some of the caretakers of the written records had taken this instruction to the extreme by making additional traditions and rules which were intended to guard the Torah even further, to prevent people from violating the original commands. The original intent of creating these extra rules may have been sincere enough, but soon the traditions and rules became equivalent, or even superior to, the original command of Yahweh and they ended up elevating the man-made traditions above the word of God itself. By the days of Yeshua, there were so many rules and regulations about the rules and regulations of God that it had become a hot mess of traditions mixed over the top of the original commands of God.

According to rabbinical lore, the motivation behind these Jewish traditions and rules was to “build a fence” around the Torah by designating specific actions as a way of protecting people from violating the actual commands of God. This is known as halakha, or the way to walk. These are the religious rules, sometimes called the Oral Law, that rabbinical thinkers and teachers have provided over the centuries. Since approximately 200 A.D, these oral teachings have been summarily encapsulated in the body of Jewish literature known as the Talmud.

To be fair, Jewish thought distinguishes between explicit commands and those derived from rabbinical teaching in the Talmud. For example, the command to observe the Sabbath is explicit right in the text of Exodus:

Exodus 20:8-10 – “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy:  You are to labor six days and do all your work,  but the seventh day is a Sabbath to Yahweh your God. You must not do any work ​– ​you, your son or daughter, your male or female servant, your livestock, or the resident alien who is within your city gates.”

As we can see, the command to observe the Sabbath clearly involves not doing any work on that day. But in Jewish practice, there is also a “fence” command that the rabbis have created to where even holding a tool is against the Torah. It does not say that in the scriptural text, but the logic is that if you are forbidden from holding a tool, you are less likely to accidentally break the command of not working on the Sabbath.

In orthodox circles, both the text of Torah and the principles of halakha in the Talmud are considered legally binding in matters of practice. This Sabbath command is only one example of thousands of added commands to the Torah that orthodox Jews were and are expected to observe. So it can be seen that the original “guarding” of God’s word, the keeping of the commands, had eventually become corrupted into a convoluted system of man-made traditions and rules, even by the days of Yeshua. In fact, Yeshua famously chastised the religious leaders of his day for this very thing:

Mark 7:8-13 – “…you set aside the commandment of God, and hold tightly to the tradition of men—the washing of pitchers and cups, and you do many other such things.” He said to them, “Full well do you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition. For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother;’ and, ‘He who speaks evil of father or mother, let him be put to death.’ But you say, ‘If a man tells his father or his mother, “Whatever profit you might have received from me is Corban, that is to say, given to God;”‘ then you no longer allow him to do anything for his father or his mother, making void the word of God by your tradition, which you have handed down. You do many things like this.”

In this example, rather than taking care of parents as Torah commands, the rabbinical halakha allowed that same potential care of mother and father to be considered an offering to God; a loophole to release people from taking care of their parents yet still appearing as pious and observant. These various interpretations of the commands led to many differing opinions and loopholes in the Torah that were (and still are) argued over and debated in the synagogues and among the people. Yeshua is recorded as exposing these fence commands as being too strict and derailing the original intent of the Torah in the first place.

However, in his own teaching and doctrine, Yeshua is recorded as having established his own type of halakha in regards to the Torah. For example, in the Sermon on the Mount, Yeshua speaks about at least two of the Ten Commandments (the explicit commands of God) and expresses a specific halakha for each.

Matthew 5:21-22 – “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the Gehenna of fire.

Matthew 5:27-28 – “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

Here we can see how Yeshua takes the base, textual commands of Yahweh and defines a specific halakha or “fence” command for each. To avoid breaking the commandment against murder, one must control their anger. To avoid adultery, one must control their attention and desires. But notice the difference between the halakha of the Jewish authorities and Yeshua: the Jews focused on specific actions to prevent breaking the commands; Yeshua focused on specific attitudes of the heart from which would flow the correct actions and the true keeping of the Torah commands. Rather than constantly having to remember a bunch of man-made rules to avoid breaking the Torah, Yeshua taught that a right heart will by default keep Yahweh’s commands perfectly.

This is the good news of the New Covenant theology of Yeshua and the Kingdom of God! It is the fulfillment of the aspirations of all of the old prophets who foretold that Israel would receive a new heart that would be obedient to the Torah.

Jeremiah 31:33 – For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares Yahweh: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

Ezekiel 36:26-27 – And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.

The New Covenant is based on the Spirit of God dwelling among his people and causing their hearts to be changed to follow his Torah because it will be internalized, “written on their hearts.” With their hearts made righteous, his people would then by default accomplish his will and be the light to the nations that they have always been destined to be. This is why Yeshua told Nicodemus that he must be “born again” to see the Kingdom of God; an act of creation as decisive and real as physical birth. Those who receive the teaching of Yeshua and the commands of God are re-created into new beings with new hearts that produce new actions, actions that honor God and keep his Word.

The other definition of keeping as it relates to the covenant and commandments is to watch. Watching implies an alertness, being aware of surroundings, looking for any holes in the perimeter defenses to maintain the security of what is being guarded. This is the level of vigilance necessary to make sure that what God has provided is not being diminished by outside influence.

This is probably the most under utilized aspect within the concept of keeping the covenant and commands. Cultural influx of worldly ideals is and has been the biggest adversary to the people of God over the centuries. Living in an environment with a constant stream of values that negate or destroys the foundations of God’s word is as rampant today as it always has been. Unfortunately, with our Western worldview, the current efforts of God’s people to prop up defenses for God’s Word is many times based on arguments regarding literal interpretations of biblical events rather than standing firm on the text with literary defenses. In discussions today, we waste time trying to set historical dates and evidences for things like Noah’s flood or the age of the earth which only cause further debate and strife, both within and without the kingdom.

If we would instead recognize and defend the literary nature of the Bible and recognize the intent of the stories and what they are trying to teach rather than when they physically occurred, we would go much further in honoring God’s purpose in having an eternal record of those things. Don’t misunderstand, it’s not that I don’t believe those events occurred within history, it’s just that the biblical record is not a newspaper account that can be completely catalogued and charted in the realm of scientific study; it has never been intended to be such a record as that. And when believers attempt to become scientific about the Biblical accounts of various things that were never intended to be viewed in that fashion, they end up dishonoring the very One they are intending to honor, much like the Pharisaical leaders of Yeshua’s day.

We have to remember that the ancient Hebrew mindset was more symbolic and figurative than literal when it came to relating their events and history. Because of this, we must exercise care in our determination of historical events, common phrases that were used for familiar items and processes for them, and spiritual experiences that conveyed God’s truth in symbolic fashion. Just like the Pharisees of old, we can become so consumed with the minutiae of the letter of the Word that we miss the spiritual meaning of what it actually means.

There are also different emphases when it comes to being vigilant and watching as related in the teachings of Yeshua and his disciples. Some of the watching involves care in what type of teaching you expose yourself to:

Mark 8:15 – And [Yeshua] cautioned them, saying, “Watch out; beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.”

This would indicate a measure of discernment that would be needed in the information being received both from religious and political authorities. Another type of watching comes from vigilance with our own actions, to ensure we are not carried away by worldly desires.

Galatians 6:1 – Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.

2 John 1:8 – Watch yourselves, so that you may not lose what we have worked for, but may win a full reward.

Another type of watching involves the care of God’s leaders among his people, to be diligent in ensuring that those who have been given into their care are properly provided for so that the people can effectively serve God.

Hebrews 13:17 – Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.

In our practice of watching carefully over God’s Word, ourselves, and each other, we must ensure that our vigilance in keeping his Word centers on honoring God, not on our personal theories about God or our personal traditions beyond what the text really says. The stories and message of the Bible are all meant to express the reality of God’s Kingdom, and his faithfulness with his people, reassuring us that God is the Creator of all and that he always does what he says. If this is the case, and we are to be his children, then we should also always do what we say so we can honor  and represent him faithfully in all things.

Observing, guarding, and watching the covenant and commands of God is as much a responsibility of God’s people today as it ever has been. As we remain faithful to the intent and the spirit of his word, not just the letter of the law or loyalty to our religious traditions, we can guarantee a fulfilling future for our descendants whom God will draw to himself and his Kingdom in ages to come.


If you enjoy these articles, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the blog. You can view the podcast archive on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

613 ways to be holy

God’s law is more achievable than we may think.

God’s law is more achievable than we may think.

The details of the biblical commandments have been a source of study for millennia. Reading through the five books of Moses (Genesis-Deuteronomy) covers a wide range of information, from God’s creation of all things, to early history of the Israelite people, to their wilderness journeys and preparation to enter the promised land.

Most significantly, an event is related to us where God revealed himself to the entire nation at once at Mount Sinai. It was here that the people heard the voice of God for themselves, and it is here that Moses received the details of God’s law. This law was to set them apart from all other nations on the earth because of its wisdom and practices.

  • Deuteronomy 4:5-8 – “Look, I have taught you statutes and ordinances as Yahweh my God has commanded me, so that you may follow them in the land you are entering to possess. “Carefully follow them, for this will show your wisdom and understanding in the eyes of the peoples. When they hear about all these statutes, they will say, ‘This great nation is indeed a wise and understanding people.’ “For what great nation is there that has a god near to it as Yahweh our God is to us whenever we call to him? “And what great nation has righteous statutes and ordinances like this entire law I set before you today?

This law was to be the distinguishing aspect of God’s people. There are laws that regulate all aspects of the life of an ancient Israelite. From food and sanitation, to marital and sexual relations, to priestly activities, to worship and sacrificial activities, to civil disputes and criminal punishments, and to war. A quick internet search on 613 commandments will provide the entire list, typically broken out into various categories as listed above.

What is interesting to note is that not all of the commandments apply to everyone, and some are only specific to certain activities at certain times of the year. Some apply only to women, and some apply only to priests.Some are focused only on the biblical holidays, others focus on conflicts that may only arise from time to time. Some are positive commands requiring action, others are prohibitions restricting behaviors. The more one looks at the overall collection of commands and prohibitions, it becomes apparent that not all of them applied to everyone equally at all times. However, there are general similarities and overarching principles that can be derived from reviewing all of them with regularity.

Most modern believers might say that, while that is all well and good, there is little need to focus our time and energy on this outdated law because it has been done away with and no longer applies. They might say that Messiah fulfilled all of the law so we don’t have to. But is that really true? Did Messiah fulfill all of the law so we don’t have to pay any attention to it?

  • Psalm 119:142 – Your righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and your law [torah] is true.
  • Psalm 119:89 – Yahweh, your word is forever; it is firmly fixed in heaven.
  • Psalm 119:160 – The entirety of your word is truth, each of your righteous judgments endures forever.
  • Isaiah 40:8- The grass withers, the flowers fade, but the word of our God remains forever.

Even Yeshua mentioned the nature of God’s eternal instruction.

  • Matthew 5:17-19 – “Don’t think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or one stroke of a letter will pass away from the law until all things are accomplished. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commands and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven. But whoever does and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”

What we need to realize in our day is that Messiah did not abolish the law, but he did fulfill the law. Specifically, as the symbolic Lamb of God, he fulfilled everything related to the temple, sacrifices, and priestly worship, and they are no longer needed in earthly practice. This was evidenced by the destruction of the temple. However, as the beginning of the new creation, he elevated the law to its rightful place as a regulator of eternal spiritual principles. As his people, he expects us to also fulfill the law in his name.

  • Galatians 6:2 – Carry one another’s burdens; in this way you will fulfill the law of Messiah.
  • James 2:8 – Indeed, if you fulfill the royal law prescribed in the Scripture, Love your neighbor as yourself, you are doing well.
  • 1 John 2:3-6 – This is how we know that we know him: if we keep his commands. The one who says, “I have come to know him,” and yet doesn’t keep his commands, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps his word, truly in him the love of God is made complete. This is how we know we are in him: The one who says he remains in him should walk just as he walked.

Even though we may not be temple priests and not all of us are women, not all of us are civil rulers and not all of us have families of our own, we are still governed by the principles of God’s eternal torah or law. We all, as part of God’s new creation and spiritual kingdom, are expected to abide by its principles as they apply in the various aspects of our lives.

When asked about the law, Yeshua stated it this way:

  • Matthew 22:35-40 – And one of them, an expert in the law, asked a question to test him: “Teacher, which command in the law is the greatest? ” He said to him, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important command. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.”

In Yeshua’s teaching, all of the torah or law of God can be summed up in these two commands: love God and love your neighbor. These two commands are explained in more detail in the Ten Commandments; the first five apply to God and his authority and the second five apply to our relations with others. The Ten Commandments are the basis and foundation upon which all of the other commands in the law of Moses are based.

So, if everything in the 613 commands of the law makes God’s people holy and distinct, and everything in the law is explained in the Ten Commandments, and everything the Ten Commandments is, according to Yeshua, summarized in the Two Great Commandments, then how hard is it for us to be holy as God expects and for us to follow his eternal law today?


If you enjoy these daily articles, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

Refusing the allure of coveting

The command to not covet may be the root command guiding all of our interactions with anything, or anyone, outside of ourselves.

The command to not covet may be the root command guiding all of our interactions with anything, or anyone, outside of ourselves.

  • Exodus 20:17 – Do not covet your neighbor’s house. Do not covet your neighbor’s wife, his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.

This command comes as the very last instruction of the Ten Commandments. And yet, wise men and rabbis over the millennia have commented that it may be the most significant commandment of the ten, as it relates to everything we do in life.

Let’s examine this a little closer. If we view the Ten Commandments in two  sections, we can put the first five under one heading: “Commands that apply to God and his authority.” The second five can come under the the heading, “Integrity in interacting with others.”

We can see how abiding by the tenth commandment will reduce or eliminate our violation of commands 6-9. If we don’t covet, we are less likely to murder someone to get what they have. We will not seek adulterous relationships with other wives or husbands because we are not coveting or desiring them. We will not steal because we are not coveting things we don’t have. We are less likely to bear false witness against someone else or lie for selfish motives because we are not coveting.

As for the first five commandments, if we are not coveting just any type of spiritual experience, we can truly seek God only, and no other. We will not be led astray by the seductive nature of idolatry. We will not take his name in vain only to leverage our relationship with God for our own personal gain. We will not violate the Sabbath for personal gain, and we will abide by the God-given authority of our parents instead of believing we know what’s best for our own personal benefit.

Coveting does indeed seem to be at the root of all that is contrary to God and his purposes. In fact, prior to being mentioned in the Bible narrative at Sinai, the only other time the Hebrew root word is used is in relation to the trees of Eden.

  • Genesis 2:9 – Yahweh God caused to grow out of the ground every tree pleasing in appearance and good for food, including the tree of life in the middle of the garden, as well as the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
  • Genesis 3:6 – The woman saw that the tree was good for food and delightful to look at, and that it was desirable for obtaining wisdom. So she took some of its fruit and ate it; she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.

This pleasing appearance and desire for obtaining forbidden wisdom is the root of coveting, and Eve fell prey to its seductive allure. From this action has flowed everything contrary to God’s purpose in this world.

By contrast, the person of integrity stands against covetousness and everything that grows out of wicked desires for that which we do not have. The apostle John calls this covetous desire the lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and pride.

  • 1 John 2:15-17 – Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world ​– ​the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride in one’s possessions ​– ​is not from the Father, but is from the world. And the world with its lust is passing away, but the one who does the will of God remains forever.

If we are to do the will of God, it is to let these covetous desires go, and to seek to simply serve him in humility and in truth. It is to do the opposite of coveting: to give and bestow good will on all those around us. It is to consider the needs of others above our own, thereby eliminating our selfish desires.

Therefore, if you must covet something, crave and desire to only do what’s right in God’s eyes.

  • Matthew 5:6 – “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

If you enjoy these daily articles, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

A renewed heart will abide within the Kingdom law

The Ten Commandments are intended to be the guidance of our actions through the transforming of our hearts.

Core of the Bible podcast #86 – A renewed heart will abide within the Kingdom law

Today we will be looking at the topic of the kingdom, and how the commands of the kingdom charter, the Ten Commandments, are intended to be the guidance of our actions through the transforming of our hearts.

Matthew 5:21-22 – “You have heard that it was said to the ancient ones, ‘You shall not murder;’ and ‘Whoever shall murder shall be in danger of the judgment.’ But I tell you, that everyone who is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment; and whoever shall say to his brother, ‘Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council; and whoever shall say, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of the fire of Gehenna.”

Within the natural or physical kingdom of God of ancient Israel, it was necessary to establish rules and safeguards for the population. For a private individual to purposely take the life of another for personal reasons was forbidden, and an offense for which the natural judgment of capital punishment was necessitated for the good of the community.

However, Yeshua uses this basic tenet of the kingdom charter, the Ten Commandments, as a way of elevating the principle to include any intended act of unrighteous anger toward another. In one sense, just as some thought is necessary before an action, any act of murder begins with unrighteous anger towards another. By highlighting and restricting the offense of the emotion, the act will not be carried out. Therefore, to prevent murder, one must eliminate the unrighteous anger behind the action.

Stated another way, as Yeshua points out, the judgment that an individual could face by committing murder could equally be leveled by God against the emotion. The action starts there, so the ultimate judgment would apply there, as well.

This would have been a revolutionary way for Yeshua to be confronting the Jewish leaders with their own practices, and he knew it would have a condemning effect; that was the point. They were so focused on practicing the letter of the law that they were violating just about every intent of it.

For example, Yeshua confronted them many times on the hypocrisy of their actions, and how, as the recognized leaders within the wider Jewish community, they should have been setting the proper standards as leaders of integrity and faithfulness. Instead, they had become corrupted by their positions of authority, and mostly used their influence for personal agendas.

Matthew 23:23-24 – “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You pay a tenth of mint, dill, and cumin, and yet you have neglected the more important matters of the law ​– ​justice, mercy, and faithfulness. These things should have been done without neglecting the others. Blind guides! You strain out a gnat, but gulp down a camel!”

In a parallel passage in the gospel of Luke, Yeshua continues his rant against the religious establishment.

Luke 11:46, 52 – Then he said: “Woe also to you experts in the law! You load people with burdens that are hard to carry, and yet you yourselves don’t touch these burdens with one of your fingers. … Woe to you experts in the law! You have taken away the key to knowledge. You didn’t go in yourselves, and you hindered those who were trying to go in.”

These are only excerpts from the denunciations that Yeshua levels against the leaders. However, these hypocritical actions highlighted by Yeshua can be summarized within one specific charge that he expresses by using two successive examples for repeated emphasis.

Matthew 23:25-28 – “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup, so that the outside of it may also become clean. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which appear beautiful on the outside, but inside are full of the bones of the dead and every kind of impurity. In the same way, on the outside you seem righteous to people, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.”

In the context of all that Yeshua condemned the leaders for, this primary condemnation has to do with the appearance on outside versus the reality on the inside. They had been focused on the outward cleanliness of the cup and dish, but the insides were still dirty. Tombs can look beautiful on the outside, but the reality on the inside is that they are full of corrupted bodies and bones. This is the same principle we have been exploring from his teaching in the Sermon on the Mount:

Matthew 5: 21-22 – “You have heard that it was said to the ancient ones, ‘You shall not murder;’ and ‘Whoever shall murder shall be in danger of the judgment.’ But I tell you, that everyone who is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment…”

According to Yeshua here, the true intent of the command not to murder is to reach to the emotion underlying the act. By condemning the inner emotion, the outward act is eliminated, and the command is enhanced. In essence, Yeshua is saying, “While everyone knows that murder subjects you to judgment, I tell you, in God’s eyes, the same applies to unchecked emotions. Therefore, do not call someone a fool or an idiot or be unrighteously angry with anyone.”

While this teaching may have seemed revolutionary at the time, it would only have been so because of the leaders’ disregard of the full instruction of Torah or God’s Word on this matter. This principle was taught in the Psalms and Proverbs.

  • Psalm 37:8 – Cease from anger and abandon wrath; Do not get upset; it leads only to evildoing.
  • Proverbs 14:16-17 – A wise person is cautious and turns from evil, but a fool is easily angered and is careless. A quick-tempered person acts foolishly, and one who schemes is hated.

As the teachings of Yeshua were passed on to his disciples and the message of God’s kingdom spread, the disciples carried with them the teaching of God’s Word as exemplified by the teachings of Messiah. John captured this same principle in his first epistle.

  • 1 John 2:9, 11 – “The one who says he is in the light but hates his brother or sister is in the darkness until now. … But the one who hates his brother or sister is in the darkness, walks in the darkness, and doesn’t know where he’s going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.”
  • 1 John 3:15 – “Everyone who hates his brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him.”
  • 1 John 4:20 – “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and yet hates his brother or sister, he is a liar. For the person who does not love his brother or sister whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.”

John speaks to this issue by pointing to the consequences of inner hatred of others: darkness, murder, lying, not demonstrating love of God. These are all the negative aspects of a life that is lived with only an outward appearance of religiosity but not being sincerely lived from the heart motives underneath. This is what Yeshua condemned the Jewish leaders for, and what we stand condemned of if we also are hypocritical in our faith. The final result of these actions and motives is only judgment and death.

So far, we have looked at the judgment not only of actions but of the motives behind those actions. In a moment, we will look at the opposite of judgment and death, the life and blessings that can be the result of the renewed heart in the life of a believer.


If judgment is the result of the combination of the emotion and the action, then conversely, a blessing can be inferred from the inverse emotion and action combination. For example, if the command is to not murder or even be angry with anyone, and if we do the opposite by not being unrighteously angry with anyone at any time and instead safeguard the lives and interests of others, this will result in a blessing both for them and for us. The action flows from the intention and inner emotion, and when the inner intent is good, the actions will be good. This is how Yeshua taught that a tree (its inner goodness or badness) will be known (demonstrated) by its fruit (its actions).

Paul goes a little deeper into this process and provides the reasoning why inner bitterness should not be a part of the believer’s life.

Ephesians 4:31-32 – “Let all bitterness, anger and wrath, shouting and slander be removed from you, along with all malice. And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Messiah.”

If we have truly been forgiven in Messiah, then our hearts should reflect that newness because of the recognition of God’s forgiveness in our lives. Paul refers to this characteristic as the “new man” or the “new self.”

  • 2 Corinthians 5:17 – “Therefore, if anyone is in Messiah, they are a new creature: old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”
  • Ephesians 4:20-24 – “But that is not how you came to know Messiah, assuming you heard about him and were taught by him, as the truth is in Yeshua, to take off your former way of life, the old self that is corrupted by deceitful desires, to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, the one created according to God’s likeness in righteousness and purity of the truth.”
  • Colossians 3:8-10 – “But now, put away all the following: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and filthy language from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self. You are being renewed in knowledge according to the image of your Creator.”

When the inner desires and motive are captive to God’s will, it is then that the true intent of God’s commands will be fulfilled in our outward actions, resulting in blessing, not judgment. This was the whole goal of the new covenant of the kingdom that was spoken about by the prophets Jeremiah and Ezekiel.

  • Jeremiah 31:33 – “Instead, this is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after those days” ​– ​Yahweh’s declaration. “I will put my teaching within them and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.”
  • Ezekiel 36:26-27 – “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. I will place my Spirit within you and cause you to follow my statutes and carefully observe my ordinances.”

This new living heart of flesh has been God’s plan all along, and had only become corrupted into a heart of stone when the letter of the law was put above the spirit of it. The apostle Paul teaches this principle to the Corinthian congregation.

2 Corinthians 3:6 – “He has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter, but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.”

Paul then goes on to list the supremacy of the law of the spirit.

2 Corinthians 3:7-8 – “Now if the ministry that brought death, engraved in letters on stones, came with glory, so that the Israelites were not able to gaze steadily at Moses’s face because of its glory, which faded, how will the ministry of the Spirit not be more glorious?”

The Ten Commandments were engraved by the finger of God in stone. In Paul’s line of reasoning throughout his epistles, the commands themselves, while holy and good, stir up within us the opposite intent by inciting us to the very thing they are intended to avoid.

Romans 7:10-13 – “The commandment that was meant for life resulted in death for me. For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me, and through it killed me. So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and just and good. Therefore, did what is good become death to me? Absolutely not! On the contrary, sin, in order to be recognized as sin, was producing death in me through what is good, so that through the commandment, sin might become sinful beyond measure.”

The violation of any of the commands results in a type of death. We cannot truly serve God through only the letter of the law; this is what the Pharisees and scribes were guilty of. We saw this earlier in the passage in Matthew’s gospel.

Matthew 23:23-24 – “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You pay a tenth of mint, dill, and cumin, and yet you have neglected the more important matters of the law ​– ​justice, mercy, and faithfulness. These things should have been done without neglecting the others.”

They were so intent on being obedient to the physical law of tithing that they focused on the physical minutia and were oblivious to the larger intent behind those laws resulting in justice, mercy, and faithfulness. Instead of their obedience to the law resulting in life, their outward conformity without inward spiritual motivation resulted in only death.

Going back to Paul’s analogy with Moses and the Ten Commandments is that if the stone commandments were powerful enough to cause Moses’ face to physically shine with glory, albeit only temporarily, how much more will the application of the inner spiritual motives of those commands cause believers to shine even more gloriously for all eternity? This is the whole point of the law: to lead us to the new covenant of the kingdom in Messiah, in whom the fullness of the law through the Spirit of God, enabling those inner motives to truly conform to his will, is revealed. The law is not done away; as Paul writes, it is “holy and just and good.” But what I believe he is trying to convey is that the letter of the law, empty of the power of the Spirit of God, is what has faded away. In its place, through Messiah, is a renewed heart that is enabled to keep that same law through the empowerment of God’s Spirit. This is the message of Jeremiah and Ezekiel; this is the gospel of the kingdom!

We do well to keep in mind that the physical kingdom of ancient Israel was the template, the basis, for the universal and spiritual kingdom of God. As such, the principles in place then, such as the command not to murder, are still in force in the universal kingdom.

However, through the instruction of Yeshua within the gospel of the kingdom, he highlighted how they are enhanced further. This was the meaning and the promise of the law being placed on the heart of the believer within the universal kingdom. If the heart has been renewed, then no law will be violated. In effect, if all of the actions come from a renewed heart of righteousness, then the law will be kept perfectly.

This is the goal that Yeshua came to express. This was the intent of the gospel of the kingdom, and why it was considered good news! As believers, we have been freed from the condemnation and death of the natural law without the Spirit, because the law placed on our heart and empowered by the Spirit ensures we are acting with true motives and abiding within the instruction of God for all time.


If you enjoy these daily articles, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

The unmistakable contrast of God’s faithfulness with those who seek him diligently

Those who are uncompromisingly vigilant will be blessed.

Those who are uncompromisingly vigilant will be blessed.

When we read familiar passages of Scripture, we can many times gloss over the depth of their instruction because we have seen them repeatedly and believe we know them fully. Yet, when looked at from a different perspective, whether in a different translation or another version, they can appear fresh and unique with some additional insights we may have missed.

In recently reading through the third chapter of Proverbs, I was struck by how many commands there are that relate to the vigilance required of one who is seeking to follow the instruction of Yahweh. When pulled out of the flow of the narrative and the back-and-forth rhythm of command/blessing, the commands by themselves become stark challenges that demonstrate the level of commitment required of those who would consider themselves disciples or followers of Yahweh.

  • 3:1 – My son, don’t forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commands;
  • 3:3 – Never let loyalty and faithfulness leave you. Tie them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart.
  • 3:5-6 – Trust in Yahweh with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him
  • 3:7 – Don’t be wise in your own eyes; fear Yahweh and turn away from evil.
  • 3:9 – Honor Yahweh with your possessions and with the first produce of your entire harvest;
  • 3:11 – Do not despise Yahweh’s instruction, my son, and do not loathe his discipline;
  • 3:25 – Don’t fear sudden danger or the ruin of the wicked when it comes,
  • 3:27 – When it is in your power, don’t withhold good from the one to whom it belongs.
  • 3:29-31 – Don’t plan any harm against your neighbor, for he trusts you and lives near you. Don’t accuse anyone without cause, when he has done you no harm. Don’t envy a violent man or choose any of his ways;

As an aside, these last three verses are actually reiterations of some of the Ten Commandments:

  • Don’t plan any harm against your neighbor/Do not murder
  • Don’t accuse anyone without cause/Do not bear false witness
  • Don’t envy a violent man or choose any of his ways/Do not covet

As we continue through this chapter grouping similar thoughts, when the blessings of the passage are all lined up together, a beautiful picture of God’s faithfulness and provision comes to light.

  • 3:2 – for they will bring you many days, a full life, and well-being.
  • 3:4 – Then you will find favor and high regard with God and people.
  • 3:6 – …he will make your paths straight.
  • 3:8 – This will be healing for your body and strengthening for your bones.
  • 3:10 – then your barns will be completely filled, and your vats will overflow with new wine.
  • 3:12 – for Yahweh disciplines the one he loves, just as a father disciplines the son in whom he delights.
  • 3:26 – for Yahweh will be your confidence and will keep your foot from a snare.

Of course, with Solomon as the writer of the Proverbs, it is not surprise that he focuses on the value of attaining wisdom above all other disciplines we can fruitfully pursue. With the mention of wisdom and discretion, a long list of benefits naturally flows from his experience in receiving the wisdom from God that he had prayed for.

3:13 – Happy is a man who finds wisdom and who acquires understanding,
3:14-18 – for she is more profitable than silver, and her revenue is better than gold. She is more precious than jewels; nothing you desire can equal her. Long life is in her right hand; in her left, riches and honor. Her ways are pleasant, and all her paths, peaceful. She is a tree of life to those who embrace her, and those who hold on to her are happy.

3:21 – Maintain sound wisdom and discretion. My son, don’t lose sight of them.
3:22-24 – They will be life for you and adornment for your neck. Then you will go safely on your way; your foot will not stumble. When you lie down, you will not be afraid; you will lie down, and your sleep will be pleasant.

In the closing verses of this passage, the end results of righteousness are contrasted with those of wickedness. Again, separated out and grouped together, the contrasts between the consequences of wickedness and the blessings of righteousness become even sharper.

  • 3:32 – for the devious are detestable to Yahweh,
  • 3:33 – Yahweh’s curse is on the household of the wicked
  • 3:34 – He mocks those who mock
  • 3:35 – he holds up fools to dishonor.
  • 3:32 – but he is a friend to the upright
  • 3:33 – but he blesses the home of the righteous;
  • 3:34 – but gives grace to the humble.
  • 3:35 – The wise will inherit honor

To my way of thinking, the benefits in carrying out these commands of Yahweh far outweigh the negative aspects of the alternatives. Unfortunately, we see many of those negative consequences in the lives of those around us every day; this in and of itself is a testament to the reality, power, and truth of God’s word. We should be committed to the vigilant keeping of God’s commands if for no other reason than for our lives to be a testament to his faithfulness and blessing. This is the most powerful way we can shine the light of God’s grace and mercy into a world of darkness, and to continue to grow the kingdom of God as people are attracted to that light.


If you enjoy these daily articles, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com

Loving the unlovable

Believers already hold the key to overcoming worldly strife.

Believers already hold the key to overcoming worldly strife.

As believers, we know that the commandment we have been charged with is simply to love. It sounds so simple, and yet when we consider the state of the world and the social environment in which we live, we see what appear to be unlovable people everywhere. There is rumor and inuendo prevalent through personal social media, criticism and outright vitriol promoted in the legacy media, all of which spills over into division and strife among our friends and family groups.

Many believers feel this is an indication of how things are getting worse and worse, and we just need to hold on until Messiah returns. However, this is nothing new. Even in Yeshua’s day, the wicked state of the population even in that time could be characterized in a similar fashion. Paul elucidates the characteristics evident even within that generation.

Romans 1:29-31 – …They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless.

How can we love people such as this? Aren’t these the people that God will destroy in vengeance? Perhaps we need to step back and broaden our understanding a bit and recognize how that type of mentality plays out.

Consider how Paul believed that the Torah command to love one’s neighbor was effective even amidst that wicked generation.

  • Galatians 5:13-14 – For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love be servants of one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
  • Romans 13:8-10 – Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not kill, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this sentence, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

These encouragements, of course, were equally based on and supported by the teaching of Messiah.

Matthew 22:37-40 – And he said to him, “You shall love Yahweh your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets.”

But besides this clear teaching of Yeshua, Paul’s admonition to love others struck at a deeper place in the hearts of his hearers. He simply confronted them with their own histories of past disobedience.

Titus 3:2-3 – to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another.

Paul includes himself in this characterization of “malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another.” If we can likewise arrive at this place of naked recognition in our own lives, we can begin to find the compassion for others who seem at first glance to be unlovable. We ourselves have been in that dark place, and yet God somehow saw past that rebellious and disobedient exterior to demonstrate his own love for us.

And this leads to the corresponding method of our own love for others: to love the unlovable, we need to view them, not with the eyes of our flesh, but through the eyes of God’s compassion. It is the most difficult thing any of us can hope to accomplish, at least in our own strength. However, relying on his Spirit for our strength, we can take steps toward compassionate actions that would be beyond our own strength or willingness to do so.

Galatians 5:16, 22-25 – But I say, walk by the Spirit, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh. … the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such there is no law. And those who belong to Messiah Yeshua have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.


If you enjoy these daily articles, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com

From hidden sin to open forgiveness

The cost of confession and repentance that still sets people free today.

The cost of confession and repentance that still sets people free today.

Proverbs 28:13 – He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will be shown compassion.

In order to be forgiven, one must recognize that a transgression has occurred, confess or admit to the fault, and then forsake (to let loose, depart from) that practice. This is not just a principle with God, but between people, as well.

Numbers 5:6-7 – “Say to the people of Israel, When a man or woman commits any of the sins that men commit by breaking faith with Yahweh, and that person is guilty, he shall confess his sin which he has committed; and he shall make full restitution for his wrong, adding a fifth to it, and giving it to him to whom he did the wrong.”

This demonstrates how wronging someone else is also an infraction against the Almighty. This is why the Law, the Ten Commandments, has commands related to God and to others. When we wrong someone else according to the Law (murder, adultery, theft, lying, coveting) we are transgressing against God.

When David committed adultery with Bathsheba, his heart became grieved that he had not only acted wickedly, but that he had sinned against a holy God.

Psalm 51:1-4 – Be gracious to me, God, according to your faithful love; according to your abundant compassion, blot out my rebellion. Completely wash away my guilt and cleanse me from my sin. For I am conscious of my rebellion, and my sin is always before me. Against you ​– ​you alone ​– ​I have sinned and done this evil in your sight. So you are right when you pass sentence; you are blameless when you judge.

God has designed people to struggle under the weight of their secret rebellion. The guilt of wrongdoing can directly affect the emotional well-being of an individual. As David wrote extensively about the effects of sin and forgiveness in his life, we can learn and identify with his struggles of unconfessed sin.

Psalm 32:3-5 – When I kept silent, my bones became brittle from my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy on me; my strength was drained as in the summer’s heat. Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not conceal my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to Yahweh,” and you forgave the guilt of my sin.

But confessing the sin is only the first part. If we have wronged someone else, we must not only come clean about it, but we must make things right by them. Not only are we to forsake that wrongdoing, but we have to make restitution when possible. This was essentially the “mechanics” behind sacrificial offerings: it demonstrated that the individual recognized their sin and understood there was a cost to their actions. Once the offering was made to God, then the “offering” needed to be made to the one who was wronged. This kept accountability squarely where it belonged: on the guilty individual. Once this was accomplished, forgiveness from God and the wronged party would be a welcome release.

David also experienced this aspect of the confession/offering process.

Psalm 32:1-2 – How joyful is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered! How joyful is a person whom Yahweh does not charge with iniquity and in whose spirit is no deceit!

When we hold our sins closely hidden, we are, in effect, deceiving ourselves. According to the proverb stated at the outset of this study, we cannot prosper. As much as we won’t admit it, it affects us. It eats away slowly at our conscience, imperceptibly coloring other aspects of our being. In one sense, sin can be considered a disease, as in “dis-ease” within our emotional selves.

However, when we “come clean,” we are released from that burden. We most certainly will pay a price for doing so, but this is to be expected and welcomed as a natural outcome. As Zacchaeus proudly exclaimed upon his recognition of Messiah:

Luke 19:8 – But Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, “Look, I’ll give half of my possessions to the poor, Lord. And if I have extorted anything from anyone, I’ll pay back four times as much.”

This was as Yeshua had intended, as this confession and restitution demonstrated the sincerity of Zacchaeus’ heart.

Luke 19:9-10 – “Today salvation has come to this house,” Yeshua told him, “because he too is a son of Abraham. “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save the lost.”

The concept of salvation is much more than a spiritual condition; it is also an emotional release from the weight of hidden shame due to a life of unconfessed sin. When confession and repentance are sincere, the effects of true freedom are life-changing.

John 8:34, 36 – Yeshua responded, “Truly I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin. … So if the Son sets you free, you really will be free.”


If you enjoy these daily articles, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com

Making righteous choices everyday

Routine habits of integrity or wickedness can each pull us into established patterns, for better or worse

Core of the Bible podcast #80 – Making righteous choices every day

Today we will be looking at the topic of integrity, and how routine habits of integrity or wickedness can each pull us into established patterns, for better or worse. Those patterns then become the template of God’s judgment upon our lives.

Proverbs 13:6 – Righteousness keeps him who is upright in the way, and wickedness overthrows a sin offering.

Those who have integrity are often described with similar terms such as “upright” or “perfect.” This idea of perfection, though, is not as though one is completely without fault; it is more a concept of completeness, or wholeness.

Yeshua uses the phrase in a similar way when he encourages believers to “be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect,” (Matt. 5:48). This is a Hebraic way of expressing that believers should be totally consistent in their lifestyle: their beliefs and what they say should match 100% with what their actions convey. This is wholeness, perfection, integrity.

In the proverb above, walking in righteousness is said to guard or “keep” one in the way of God. The more our lives demonstrate consistency in righteous actions, the simpler it is to stay on the correct path.

Psalm 25:10, 12-14, 21 – Yahweh leads with unfailing love and faithfulness all who keep his covenant and obey his demands. … Who are those who fear Yahweh? He will show them the path they should choose. They will live in prosperity, and their children will inherit the land. Yahweh is a friend to those who fear him. He teaches them his covenant. … May integrity and honesty protect me, for I put my hope in you.

Psalm 26:1-5 – Declare me innocent, O Yahweh, for I have acted with integrity; I have trusted in Yahweh without wavering. Put me on trial, Yahweh, and cross-examine me. Test my motives and my heart. For I am always aware of your unfailing love, and I have lived according to your truth. I do not spend time with liars or go along with hypocrites. I hate the gatherings of those who do evil, and I refuse to join in with the wicked.

Proverbs 11:3, 5 – Honesty guides good people; dishonesty destroys treacherous people. … The godly are directed by honesty; the wicked fall beneath their load of sin.

By contrast, when our lives are in disarray and when our actions are inconsistent, we struggle more to keep our focus where it needs to be. The wickedness of those who do not walk with integrity is said to “overthrow their sin offering.” This is a demonstration of how even the best of intentions can be counteracted by a pattern of inconsistent behavior or outright sinful rebellion.

Psalm 25:3 – No one who trusts in you will ever be disgraced, but disgrace comes to those who try to deceive others.

Psalm 140:9-11 – The chief of those who surround me, the perverseness of their lips covers them. They cause to fall on themselves burning coals, Into fire He [God] does cast them, Into deep pits — they arise not. A talkative man is not established in the earth, One of violence — evil hunts to overflowing.

Proverbs 1:29-32 – For they hated knowledge and chose not to fear Yahweh. They rejected my advice and paid no attention when I corrected them. Therefore, they must eat the bitter fruit of living their own way, choking on their own schemes. For simpletons turn away from me–to death. Fools are destroyed by their own complacency.

Proverbs 5:22-23 – An evil man is held captive by his own sins; they are ropes that catch and hold him. He will die for lack of self-control; he will be lost because of his great foolishness.

Even in the light of the national sin of Israel that Jeremiah was recounting against them, the same principle applied:

Jeremiah 2:19 – Your wickedness will bring its own punishment. Your turning from me will shame you. You will see what an evil, bitter thing it is to abandon Yahweh your God and not to fear him. I, the Lord, Yahweh of Heaven’s Armies, have spoken!

In a moment, we will explore the logical outcomes of this biblical principle as it relates to the judgment of God and the outworking of sinful actions into the chaos of the world.


As we have seen in the foregoing verses, living a life of integrity or wickedness is a life of momentum. The weight of our everyday thoughts and actions drives a flywheel of consequence that can keep us headed in positive or negative directions based on patterns we are establishing in every decision.

Galatians 6:7-8 – Don’t be misled–you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant. Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit.

The Galatian congregation was challenged by Paul to recognize what it is they were planting with the types of lives they were choosing to lead. Whatever they planted would be the fruit that would come to bear when it reached maturity in the events that would unfold after the fact.

But this now raises a question, at least in my mind: if, as Paul says, we reap what we sow, how involved is God in the execution of that justice in one’s life? Does God arrange events and situations to challenge us or to justify us, or are those situations merely the outworking of natural consequence?

I think the answer may reveal itself in the wording of the question. What if the “natural consequence” is a law built into the very fabric of Creation, like the physical laws of gravity or light? We reap what we sow. We see that exhibited in the natural world as well; whatever seed is placed in the soil is what will come to fruition when it matures. What if, when someone experiences the fruit of their own doing, whether good or bad, this is what the Bible calls the “judgment of God,” or “God’s justice.” It would make sense, and still remain consistent with the bulk of Scripture as we have seen in all the instances quoted earlier.

And isn’t it still the judgment of God? For example, God warned Israel what would happen if they turned from him, and it came to pass. The judgment that fell upon that nation was decreed by God, but it was accomplished as a result of their own disobedience.

The personified Wisdom of Proverbs shares the same view:

Proverbs 1:29-32 – For they hated knowledge and chose not to fear Yahweh. They rejected my advice and paid no attention when I corrected them. Therefore, they must eat the bitter fruit of living their own way, choking on their own schemes. For simpletons turn away from me–to death. Fools are destroyed by their own complacency.

It’s as if God has pronounced a specific judgment on that individual, when in a practical sense, they have caused their own troubles as a result of their rejection or ignorance of his ways.

In bearing this principle into the New Testament writings, Yeshua also intimated the foregone judgment of those who make certain choices, especially in regard to those who chose to believe in him, and those who did not.

John 3:18 – “There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son.”

John 5:24 – “I tell you the truth, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life.”

And I guess this is where I am headed with the trajectory of this principle today. Why is it that the world is in the chaotic condition it is today? As humans, we argue and fight about every inane idea that happens to be trending on social media; we struggle against oppressive authorities; we try to garner support for whatever the cause du jour happens to be; we watch painfully as people brutalize one another over ideologies that are outdated or misapplied. Believers would say all of this is the result of sin, and that’s not an incorrect conclusion. However, I believe it is not from sin as the typical believer would characterize it.

The mainstream idea within Christianity would assert that sin, equated with the fallen nature of mankind, is the cause of the chaos world. Through the passages we have looked at today, and hundreds of others we haven’t, I would draw a slightly different conclusion.

Sin is indeed the cause of the issue, but I would characterize this sin as the act of not obeying the revealed will of God, not a predisposed nature of humans. This disobedience may be out of outright rebellion, having known the truth of God and simply choosing to ignore it (like national Israel), but it may also be the result of straight-up ignorance about what God expects of mankind as his creation. Whenever anyone, anywhere, knowingly or unknowingly, acts in opposition to the righteous commands of God, sin is the result. They have violated a “law” of nature. That’s what sin is: disobedience to his righteous command. And if sin has predetermined consequences as God has revealed, then that resulting sin sets in motion a chain of other actions and reactions that can further be guided by acting in alignment with God’s commands or in the absence of them. Every new branch in the moral decision-tree is a junction where righteousness can be reestablished, or sin can continue to progress into other areas.

I don’t believe man has a “sin-nature” other than it appears to be quality of man that, left to our own devices, we will always choose the path of least resistance to get whatever we want. Always. Just like water flowing down a mountain and around rocks and bluffs, the path of least resistance leads to the lake or ocean into which it empties. I believe that is a universal human principle that is experienced in every culture.

However, when a command of God is introduced into a potential situation, the ongoing human response can be to continue to follow the path of least resistance (now in blatant rebellion to the command, having heard and understood it) or to expend some sort of effort or restraint in attempting to follow the dictate of the command. The water must now flow uphill or turn another direction upon hitting the Rock. This is the crux of the human condition, and a deeper understanding of the chaos in the world.

The reason this principle can be so hidden from view is that each person is sinning or obedient to varying degrees, knowingly or unknowingly, and all of those various natural consequences are being borne out in overlapping, concentric circles throughout the entire world and as a result, causing chaos. Generally speaking, this is why it can be truly said that all of the chaos in the world is due to sin, or disobedience to God’s commands.

God’s judgment comes into play in the sense that he has made it abundantly clear through his Word and with the historical example of the nation of ancient Israel that he expects mankind to follow his commands, and he has also shared the consequences of not following his commands. His commands are the key.

1 John 5:3-4 – Loving God means keeping his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome. For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith.

If you’ve listened to this podcast for any length of time, then you know I believe the Ten Commandments are the basis for all human conduct, and they are not burdensome. The teachings of Yeshua in the Sermon on the Mount which are built upon these commandments are also not burdensome. But they must be obeyed and lived out to be effective in bringing God’s light to this chaotic world.

When we recognize Yahweh God as the one true authority in the universe and make a conscious decision to abide by his Word, we will be empowered to do so by his Spirit guiding us.

Galatians 5:16, 22-25 – “So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. … But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! Those who belong to Messiah Yeshua have nailed the passions and desires of their flesh to his cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives.”

This happens both inwardly and within the ongoing review of his Word, having our minds renewed to match the inward renewal of the new Creation that we have become in him.

Romans 12:2 – “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by renewing your minds. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”

2 Corinthians 5:17 – “This means that anyone who belongs to Messiah has become a new creation. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!”

The Spirit of Messiah is a spirit of unswerving obedience to God. When we place our faith and our hope in Messiah, we fulfill the Word of God because that faith will keep us obedient to his commands and guide us on the correct paths.

When we are consistent in our actions and our speech, we establish patterns of righteousness that tend to keep us walking in the right way. Sin is less of a temptation and a distraction because we have established views and behaviors that we begin to thrive in. This encourages further righteous actions and as a result, we begin to exhibit larger measures of integrity in our interactions with others. Just like the water not flowing in the path of least resistance, the Spirit of God empowers us in new channels of right actions within which we begin to flow. The more we obey God’s commands, the more righteousness is injected into the rippling chaos of the world. As others see and experience the light of God, then further righteous choices are made which continue to radiate out in calming waves, as well. The goal of God is to have his instruction universally recognized and practiced on the earth, thereby making all things whole.

This should then be our goal, as well. To make righteous choices every day means the expansion of the Kingdom of God into the world of chaos. This is the effect our faith can have when we choose to be obedient to the Creator of all and live by his standards established for all time.

1 Peter 1:23 – For you have been born again, but not to a life that will quickly end. Your new life will last forever because it comes from the eternal, living word of God.


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com

Yeshua and the Kingdom of the ten commandments

Did Yeshua teach the ongoing validity of all ten of the commandments?

Did Yeshua teach the ongoing validity of all ten of the commandments?

There are some passages where he enumerates five or six of the ten commandments all at once.

Matthew 19:16-19 – Just then someone came up and asked him, “Teacher, what good must I do to have eternal life? ” “Why do you ask me about what is good? ” he said to him. “There is only one who is good. If you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.” “Which ones? ” he asked him. Yeshua answered:

  • Do not murder;
  • do not commit adultery;
  • do not steal;
  • do not bear false witness;
  • honor your father and your mother;
    and love your neighbor as yourself.

So this passage covers commandments 5-9. Yeshua clearly taught these. What is a little more subtle in this passage is that Yeshua essentially affirmed all ten commandments by listing even just these five. This is a literary practice which we have come to call synechdode, in which a part stands for the whole. By telling the inquirer it was necessary to keep “the commandments,” and then listing five of them, it can be ascertained that all ten were implied.

Also, Yeshua had mentioned how he did not come to abolish the commandments, but to fulfill them by demonstrating their true meaning.

Matthew 5:17, 19 – “Don’t think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. … “Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commands and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven. But whoever does and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

He here cautions that breaking any of the commands would result in a diminished status, while doing and teaching them would be a sign of greatness within the kingdom.

Ok, but what about being a bit more specific on the remaining five commandments? We still need to see if he enumerates commandments 1-4 and 10.

The first commandment is “Do not have other gods besides me.”

Matthew 4:10 – Then Yeshua told him, “Go away, Satan! For it is written: Worship Yahweh your God, and serve only him.”

This identifies the upholding of the first commandment.

Now, as to the second commandment about graven images, there is no direct instance of Yeshua condemning idolatry in the generally accepted sense. The only time the term for an idol, eikon, is mentioned by him, it is in reference to one of the coins of Caesar which had Caesar’s “image and inscription” on it. This was a tacit reference to idolatry, because many Jews would not carry coin for the fact that coin images were considered idolatry. The fact that the Jewish leaders could produce a coin when Yeshua requested it was also a condemnation of their own covetousness.

Luke 12:15 – He then told them, “Watch out and be on guard against all greed, because one’s life is not in the abundance of his possessions.”

The tenth commandment against covetousness which is covered here, is also a recognition of idolatry, as Yeshua’s disciple Paul would teach. Paul taught that covetousness is equivalent to idolatry, and Yeshua definitely taught against covetousness.

Colossians 3:5 – Therefore, put to death what belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desire, and greed, which is idolatry.

His disciples also taught against idolatry, which would convey that Yeshua did so also. Everything the apostles teach would have to be in accordance with Yeshua’s teaching.

As for the Sabbath, Yeshua made an outright declaration about it:

Mark 2:27 – Then he told them, “The Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath.

Yeshua not only practiced Sabbath worship and taught in the synagogues on a regular basis, but he blatantly referenced it in this passage. By this statement, he clarified that the Sabbath was not to be a ceremonial list of do’s and don’ts (which it had become in Jewish practice). Instead, his declaration focuses on the fact that the Sabbath was made for man, and not just for Jews, but for the specific purpose of benefitting any person who would partake of it.

Now the only remaining commandment is the third commandment about not taking the Lord’s name in vain. The answer to this representation in Yeshua’s teaching can be identified by defining what this commandment means in the first place. Many people think it means that one should not use God’s literal name as a swear word. But the commandment actually has a deeper meaning than that.

To not take the name of the Lord in vain really means to not become associated with him and everything that Yahweh’s character exemplifies (i.e., his name) to no purpose. If one is only joining with Yahweh because of upbringing or social pressure and not really living by his standards, then that person has taken Yahweh’s name “in vain,” that is, to no purpose. His torah, or instruction, has no value in that person’s life because they don’t really take it seriously.

If this is the definition we are using for the third commandment, then the whole Sermon on the Mount, a summary of Yeshua’s teaching, is all about not taking Yahweh’s name in vain or to no purpose. Yeshua was constantly teaching about sincerity in practice, not to be hypocritical in anything. He emphasized the heart motive behind every action, which points to a faith in Yahweh that is vibrant, not just something that is participated in only for religious reasons.

So, we can see that throughout his ministry, Yeshua constantly emphasized the importance of the kingdom, and repentance necessary to enter that kingdom. This was because the religious leaders of Judaism had co-opted the true worship of Yahweh into their own brand of man-made rules and traditions. Yeshua urged people to repent of these false and essentially idolatrous practices and to return to the true spirit of the torah, not just the letter of it. The kingdom of God is therefore established on God’s very words, his ten commandments, not in spite of them. Since Yeshua preached the kingdom of God, he clearly taught all of the ten commandments as the base of that kingdom, as well.


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.